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Pale Ink, by Henriette Mertz, [1953], at

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Four thousand years is a long time to wait. One of the stories, recounted here for the very first time, has waited that long—the second story has waited fifteen hundred years.

Both stories, written in China and appearing here in English translation, were written at an early date and both have been carefully preserved in the Chinese archives from that day to this—both still exist. This writing hopes to show that the context of both documents is true. The earliest one has been assumed to be mythological and the later one, false. The reason for the assumption is that we have never understood them.

The ever-present puzzle of the earliest of Chinese expeditions to America, has been a problem that we have not as yet solved. The two stories, given here, cannot be presumed to be the very first actual journeys that took place but they are, in my opinion, rather the first geographical descriptions so recorded and the record preserved. Other migrations undoubtedly took place thousands of years earlier but we do not know when.

The writer is deeply conscious of the fact that many errors may occur on the following pages. In various instances throughout the translations, two or three nearby mountain peaks might well have fulfilled the requirements set forth in the Classics—the wrong peak may have been chosen. Exploratory matter is always imperfect—if one waited until perfection were reached, little would be accomplished.

In bringing to light the truth of that which has been written in both ancient documents, the field of archeology has been freely drawn upon for corroborative evidence—and it has produced many of the answers. Geography has furnished the remainder. There is no intent here to uncover any unknown archeological matter—that is being most capably done by the archeologists

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themselves. Neither is any new scientific material presented—for the writer is no scientist. Rather, the substance of that which has been disclosed has been drawn from only known and accepted facts in many related fields. It has attempted to bring to bear the light of today's knowledge on the writings of the ancients in order to determine their truth. In so doing, the writer has felt free to use and combine scientific material from many related fields.

It is believed that if the Chinese Classics were re-studied, with faith in their veracity, we may well find that much has been recorded, the truth of which we little suspected.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Stanford University Press for permission to use quotations from Dr. Morley's "The Ancient Maya"; to Alfred A. Knopf for the use of "A Poem on the Stone Drums"; to Dr. H. G. Creel for material from "The Birth of China"; to Virginia Prewett; to Gordon Ekholm; to the National Geographic Society; particularly to Henry B. Syverud for a wealth of information on Writing Rock; and to the many other unknown archeologists whose valuable work over the years has contributed much to my study—to all of them, I am indebted.


June, 1953

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"When I came down from Ku Su Terrace in the East,
 I had already arranged for a vessel to float on the sea;
 And until now resentment lingers in my mind
 That I did not succeed in exploring Fu Sang."

                       —From the poems of Tu Fu (726 A.D.)
                      Translation by Florence Ayscouth

Next: Chapter I. Geographical Myths